League fatigue 

A recent survey shows that a majority of Oklahoma City voters oppose the Lingerie Football League franchise coming to the city, as well as a tax increase to lure a new major sports franchise to the city.

The same poll also found that most Oklahoma City voters surveyed would not support an additional big-league sports franchise besides professional basketball.

The poll of 303 registered voters in Oklahoma City was conducted by SoonerPoll.com and sponsored by Oklahoma Gazette. The poll, which was conducted Dec. 27 to Dec. 29, 2010, by live interviewers via telephone, has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.26 percent.

A combined 69 percent of those surveyed said they would not support a city tax increase to lure another major sports franchise to the city, according to poll results.

In March 2008, Oklahoma City voters approved the extension of a 1-cent sales tax, which funded renovations to the Ford Center (since renamed the Oklahoma City Arena) and provided a team practice center, to entice the Seattle SuperSonics to relocate to the city.

The measure, which passed with more than 60 percent of the vote, extended the expiring MAPS For Kids sales tax for 15 months, and the NBA franchise, now known as the Oklahoma City Thunder, relocated to the city.

Jim Balkenbush said he supports the existing sports teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder and RedHawks, but would not support other taxes to bring in additional franchises.

“Raise a tax to bring another franchise in? Absolutely not,” Balkenbush said. “It would be very, very poor timing on the part of anybody who wanted to do that. I don’t want to support something like that with taxes. We’ve got a great basketball team, a great baseball team, we’ve got (Oklahoma State) in Stillwater and (the University of Oklahoma) in Norman, the high schools have wonderful wrestling and soccer programs. To bring another franchise in — I don’t think that would work.”

Last November, the Lingerie Football League
expressed interest in Oklahoma City, only it was not well-received by
the mayor’s office. The LFL, which as the name suggests, features women
in lingerie playing football, stated it was considering the city as a
new franchise location.

Mayor
Mick Cornett said he opposed the league coming to the city and that the
plan had “too many problems to list,” prompting league Chairman
Mitchell Mortaza to compare the city’s leadership to that of North Korea
and accuse the city of hypocrisy.

Mortaza said the league would not continue its efforts to come to the city because of Cornett’s comments.

The
SoonerPoll.com survey found that a majority of Oklahoma City voters
were against the league coming to the city, although, perhaps somewhat
predictably, the opposition to hosting an LFL franchise was somewhat
weaker among male respondents.

While
around 55 percent of male respondents opposed the league coming to the
city, about one-third supported it. Among female respondents, about
three-fourths opposed the league, while only around 14 percent supported
it.

Poll
respondent Brett Wooley said the league’s scuttled plans was a First
Amendment issue, and that Cornett should not have interfered.

“That’s First Amendment stuff there,” Wooley said. “I can’t see why our mayor thinks he can rule like Boss Tweed.”

Meanwhile, Balkenbush said bringing such a league to the city would be “absolute foolishness.”

“How
stupid can a person get?” Balkenbush said. “Go to the game to look at
the girls instead of watch the competition? Get serious.”

Poll respondents also were asked what type of additional major sports franchise they would support.

While
39 percent said none, the next most popular answer was professional
football, with a quarter of respondents stating they would support an
NFL franchise coming to the city.

Wooley
said sports franchises in the area had reached a saturation point and
that, besides NASCAR, there probably aren’t many new sports franchises
he would support.

“How
much more can we support, as far as an economically viable
(franchise)?” Wooley said. “I can’t afford to go to these games. I guess
there are a lot of people from out of town that can afford to go to
these games.”

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